Item description for The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde...
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a masterpiece of aestheticism and a moral parable.
Dorian Gray is a young man of impossible physical beauty whose portrait -- painted by the artist Basil Hallward -- becomes connected on an occult level with the workings of his soul. Drawn into a corrupt and sensual life by the dissolute Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian remains young and beautiful, while the painting ages in his stead, ultimately becoming a monstrosity.
Interwoven throughout is the author's brilliant commentary on beauty, art, love, and always, stunning wit.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6.25" Height: 9" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date Feb 10, 2007
Publisher Norilana Books
ISBN 1934169544 ISBN13 9781934169544
Availability 0 units.
More About Oscar Wilde
Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) remains best known for his comedies of the 1890s, including The Importance of Being Earnest, and for his tragic imprisonment and untimely death.
Oscar Wilde lived in Dublin. Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 and died in 1900.
Oscar Wilde has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Picture of Dorian Gray?
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame Aug 24, 2008
Wilde sees the world more clearly than any writer of fiction in the last century. It is for that reason that his work is so filled with countless paradoxes and contradictions that challenge the mind and titillate the senses. Wilde lived in an infinitely ironic age, when society had grown so influential as to crowd out the individuals that made it up. Today, we have taken for granted this incongruity and so our writers cannot express the kind of irony that Wilde mastered, despite the fact that we all know that something is amiss.
`The Picture of Dorian Gray' is filled with this irony. The plot shows us the ultimate irony of a man giving up his soul for the beauty of youth--the condition that is exalted in the modern age above all else, intellect, truth, justice, life itself. Interspersed are dialogues and epigrams that persist one hundred years later as some of the finest word handling ever recorded. Even a few samples should compel the potential reader:
"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."
"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter."
"A man cannot be too careful in his choice for his enemies."
"The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little bit longer."
"Men marry because they are tired, women marry because they are curious. Both are disappointed."
"I love acting, it is so much more real than life."
- "I am on the side of the Trojans, they fought for a woman." - "They were defeated."
The mastery of wit that Wilde displays must be seen in its context. He was a decadent as much as the characters he portrays are. Ultimately, the disillusion that the decadent faces comes through in the story and the reader is left with a very uneasy feeling upon completing `Dorian Gray.' Is life as absurd as it seems? Is there a solution? Or are we stuck with a life of paradox? Perhaps our current period of decadence will show us an alternative. Until it does, we can enjoy the astounding word play offered here.
"Beauty is a form of Genius." Jun 8, 2008
Oscar Wilde was one of the foremost representatives of Aestheticism, a movement based on the notion that art exists for no other purpose than its existence itself ("l'art pour l'art"), not for the purpose of social and moral enlightenment. Born in Dublin and a graduate of Oxford's Magdalen College, he initially worked primarily as a journalist, editor and lecturer, but gradually turned to writing and produced his most acclaimed works in the six-year span from 1890 to 1895, roughly coinciding with the period of his romantic involvement with Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas, sixteen years his junior. Douglas's strained relationship with his father, John Sholto Douglas, Marquees of Queensberry, eventually resulted in a series of confrontations between Wilde and the Marquees, which first led to a libel suit brought by Wilde against his lover's father (who had openly accused Wilde of "posing as a sodomite" and threatened to disown his son if he didn't give up his acquaintance with the writer) and subsequently to two criminal trials against Wilde for "gross indecencies," based on a law generally interpreted to prohibit homosexual relationships. Sentenced to a two-year term of "hard labor" in Reading Gaol, Wilde emerged from prison in 1897 a spiritually, physically and financially broken man and, unable to continue living in England or Ireland, after three years' wanderings throughout Europe died in 1900 of cerebral meningitis, barely 46 years old.
"The Picture of Dorian Gray," Wilde's only novel besides seven plays as well as several works of short fiction, poetry, nonfiction and two fairy tale collections originally written for his two sons, is critical to an understanding of Wilde's body of work and his personality primarily for two reasons: First, because it constitutes one of his earliest fully accomplished formulations of Aestheticism, and secondly because of its undeniable undercurrent of homoeroticism; an inclination which, after a six-year marriage widely thought to initially have been a true love match, Wilde had begun to explore more openly around the time of the novel's creation (1890). The story's title character is an exceptionally handsome young man who, both in the eyes of the artist tasked to paint his portrait, Basil Hallward, and in those of their somewhat older friend Lord Henry Wotton, epitomizes perfect beauty and is coveted by both men for that very reason. Seduced by hedonistic Lord Henry into believing that beauty can literally justify anything, including any act of immorality, Dorian sells his soul for maintaining his beautiful appearance, letting his portrait age in his stead. (In that, his character resembles Goethe's and Marlowe's Faust.) He then quickly turns from an innocent youth into a cruel and calculating man whom society, in its shallow adherence to appearances, nonetheless never associates with any of the results of his cruelty, never looking beyond the surface of his handsome exterior and assuming that a man so beautiful must necessarily also be good. Ultimately it is Dorian himself who brings about his own downfall when he is no longer able to face the manifestation of his evilness in Basil Hallward's picture.
Upon its initial publication in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was widely scorned as immoral by a public neither familiar with nor particularly open to the concepts of Aestheticism and its mockery of middle class morality, and repulsed by the thinly veiled homoerotic relationship of the novel's protagonists. Wilde republished the work the following year, adding a preface designed to explain his views on art. Yet, it was that preface which, along with several of his other publications and his written exchanges with Lord Alfred Douglas, ultimately would play a devastating role in his trials, where Queensberry's attorney would come to use an excerpt from that very preface - "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written" - to extract from Wilde statements to the effect that any book inspiring a sense of beauty (including, as implied in the attorney's question, an "immoral" book, if "The Picture of Dorian Gray" could be qualified as such) was well-written and therefore commendable; that only Philistines, brutes and illiterates - whose views on art he considered invariably stupid and for which he therefore didn't "care twopence" - could consider this novel "perverted," and that the majority of the reading public would probably not be able to draw a proper distinction between a good and a bad book. It was testimony such as this, as well as the impending confrontation with a number of male witnesses ready to testify as to the nature of their relationship with Wilde, that not only caused the author's attorney to convince his client to drop the libel suit against Queensberry but also opened the door for Wilde's own subsequent prosecution.
If "The Picture of Dorian Gray" has a central theme besides the supremacy of beauty and the depiction of a society primarily interested in appearances, it is a call for individuality: Dorian's cruelty is brought out only after he allows himself to be influenced by Lord Henry's equally seductive and cynical hedonism; and similarly, Basil Hallward's blind idolizing of Dorian eventually proves fatal for the painter. - Wilde's only novel is one of the first and most poignant expressions of his own individualism; but unlike his protagonist, who ultimately pays a ghastly prize for selling his soul and giving up his individuality, Wilde paid as high a price for maintaining his. Like Dorian, he knew that "[e]ach of us has Heaven and Hell in him," and although this novel's preface ends with the provocative statement that "[a]ll art is quite useless," it was the very fact that Wilde put his entire being into his art that ultimately destroyed him. But like beauty, which is finally restored to perfection in Dorian Gray's portrait, Wilde's works have stood the test of time; and not merely for their countless, pricelessly witty epigrams. They're as well worth a read as ever.
Also recommended: Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (Collins Classics) Oscar Wilde Wilde (Special Edition) The Oscar Wilde Collection The Picture of Dorian Gray The Importance of Being Earnest - Criterion Collection The Importance of Being Earnest An Ideal Husband A Good Woman